Woman passenger seated next to masturbating man says cabin crew refused to move her

Chloe King urges travellers to boycott American Airlines

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 13 July 2017 13:58
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​A woman who says she was the “victim of a sexual crime” on a transatlantic flight has urged travellers to boycott American Airlines.

Chloe King was a passenger on an overnight flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle in May 2017. She was in a window seat in a row of three, with a man in the middle seat and another woman at the aisle.

She wrote at Medium: “I woke up right before landing to have a flight attendant call me to the back of the plane and inform me that the man sitting next to me had been masturbating beside me while I slept.

“The woman to his other side saw it happen and asked to be moved, and the French Police had been notified to arrest the man upon landing — they just wanted to let me know.”

Ms King says she was appalled that, when the incident was first reported, the cabin crew did not wake her immediately “and move me to a safe place”.

After she was informed, she asked to sit anywhere else on the plane for landing, but was refused.

“Instead, they made me climb back over the sex offender, trapped between him and the window for the rest of the flight. I was shaking and crying and trying not to get sick.

“I’ll never know what exactly happened on that flight, but I do know I’ll never feel completely safe flying again. Add an American Airlines airplane to the long list of places where, as a woman, I will feel anxious and vulnerable.”

Ms King, who is a public relations and social media manager at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, concludes: “American Airlines, you knew what happened was criminal activity — therefore you had the offender arrested — yet you did nothing to stop the man’s actions or protect my safety in a horrifying situation.

“You chose to treat the man committing the crime with far more respect than the unconscious woman sitting beside him. As humans, we deserve more than that.

“So please, choose any other airline.”

The airline told The Independent: “American always strives to maintain a safe and comfortable travel experience for all of our customers. We are reviewing how we handled the situation on this flight, and have reached out directly to Ms King.

“During the flight, our crew requested that French law enforcement meet the aircraft in Paris. Upon arrival, French officials interviewed the male passenger regarding the allegations.”

Last year Allison Dvaladze, a passenger on a Delta Airlines overnight flight from Seattle to Amsterdam, said she was sexually assaulted three hours into the flight, when the man in the next seat repeatedly groped her.

The alleged perpetrator was allowed to leave the aircraft on arrival at Amsterdam without the police being involved.

Ms Dvaladze is calling for better training for cabin crew, and for warnings to be given as part of the safety briefing.

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